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Alomar addresses family in emotional speech

Alomar addresses family in emotional speech

Alomar addresses family in emotional speech
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- There may be no crying in baseball, but there certainly were tears on Sunday during the annual induction ceremony for the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Roberto Alomar's mother, Maria, was seated near the stage set behind the Clark Sports Center openly weeping as her youngest son joined the hallowed few enshrined in the Hall.

"This was very emotional, especially for my wife," said Alomar's father, Sandy Sr., after the nearly three-hour ceremony. "I have played the game and it's a lot easier for all those players who have played with all those [Hall of Famers] sitting up there. So it was easy for me. For her, I know that it was a little harder.

"To see him inducted into the Hall of Fame, where there are only 205 players out of something like the 17,000 who've played the game is something very special."

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Sandy Alomar Jr., Roberto's older brother, an All-Star catcher in his own right and now a coach for the Indians, drove eight hours after the game in Cleveland on Friday night just to be here for the festivities. He drove back after the ceremony on Sunday. Sandia, their sister, was also in attendance with her family.

They are a highly respected baseball-playing family and are considered royalty in their native Puerto Rico.

"This was very emotional," said Sandy Jr., who was the main talking head interviewed about his brother during a video shown just before his speech. "We've been waiting for this for a long time. It was a family dream."

Sandy Sr. played second base in the Major Leagues for six teams during his 15 year career. He was a lifetime .248 hitter. Yet, when asked who he thought was the best second baseman of all-time, Roberto passed over the most recent Hall of Famers at that position: Ryne Sandberg, Joe Morgan, Bill Mazeroski and Nellie Fox. Instead, he named his father.

"Everything I learned about the game of baseball, I learned from my dad," Alomar, a 12-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove Award-winning second baseman, said during his speech on Sunday. "Somebody asked me who was your favorite second baseman who ever played this game? I know there were some great ones who I liked a lot. But to me, I watched this man every day play the game. He was the best."

On Sunday, there were thousands of fans waving the flags of Puerto Rico and Canada lining the meadows in honor of Alomar's years growing up on that island Commonwealth and his five playing in Toronto for the Blue Jays. One fan held high a yellow placard, reading: "Traveled from L.A. to see my idol Roberto Alomar."

The younger Alomar made history on Sunday. He was only the third native Puerto Rican inducted into the Hall behind Roberto Clemente and Orlando Cepeda, and he's the first Hall of Famer with the Blue Jays logo embossed on his plaque.

During the video, Sandy Jr. told a story about the early days the two spent playing baseball in the Padres' Minor League system.

"When we were in Double-A, we didn't have enough [money] to get a two-bedroom apartment," he said. "So we got one bigger apartment with one couch and one bed. So we said whoever has a good night or good game at the plate gets to have the bed. I slept on the couch the whole year."

As he began his speech, Roberto thanked Sandy Jr. for his eloquence in the video.

"Thank you, Sandy, for all the compliments," he said. "But you forget that you sent me to do the laundry because I was your little brother."

Much later in the speech, Roberto called his older brother his "best friend."

"Sandy is a special person," the younger Alomar said. "He taught me so much about this game when I played with him. Sandy is my best friend and I'm so glad I had an opportunity to play with him in Cleveland and Chicago. Sandy, I know we didn't share winning a championship together, but we'll share this one. And this is the big one. In my heart, you are a Hall of Famer."

As he said those words, their mother continued to weep or at least hold back the tears. And then he turned to her.

"To my mom, I don't know how to describe my mom," he said. "She is the most wonderful person in my life. She gave me love. She took me to the ballpark when I was just a little boy running around, hanging around. Mom, thank you for everything you have done for me. If I'm standing here today, it's because of you."

Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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